Central senior, the Wayland Parker Scholar of the Month: From Slates to iMacsand moreBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 03. 2013 10:34PM
MANCHESTER - Just days after being named valedictorian for the 2013 Manchester Central High School Class of 2013, Elizabeth Conway received word she was chosen to be January's Francis Wayland Parker Scholar of the Month.
"It's been a very good week," said Conway. "It's a nice bookend. I was named a scholar in May of my freshman year also, so to be named again in my senior year is really great."
The abundance of technology in the modern classrooms of today would impress Bedford-born Francis Wayland Parker, if the 19th-century educator had a chance to spend some time inside Manchester Central, said Conway.
In her essay, Conway wrote that Parker challenged educators to "break from the rigid educational practices of the day and conduct classes with informal methods of instruction, more free-thinking and free-speaking sessions that could provoke ideas, inspire thought, and create dialogue."
"He believed that every student should have their own slate board, the writing tablet of that time - considered a costly and unusual strategy," wrote Conway. "With their slates, Parker believed students could think, write, and draw freely without fear or boundary."
She compared that line of thinking with improvements she has seen put in place at Central.
"Today in our music department at Manchester Central, we are moving closer to fulfilling Parker's ambitions," wrote Conway. "Numerous Apple iMac computers were recently donated and installed with interactive 'Smart Music' software. These hands-on virtual applications are loaded with all the tools needed to create and practice music."
She also highlighted the programs that get students out of Central and into the surrounding community.
"At Central, there are many extracurricular programs like the National Honor Society and the World Language Society that mandate outreach activities to build individual students, build a closer community, and build a better society," wrote Conway. "The 21st Century classrooms at Central would fascinate Parker. And though his chalk and slate have been replaced by mouse and computer, the ubiquitous sounds of progress, the scratching of stone, the pressing of keys, are tangible tools that produce inspiration for the same hungry minds."
The Francis Wayland Parker Scholar program is sponsored by the New Hampshire Association of School Principals, in cooperation with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Lifetouch Studios and the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England.
Other nominees for January were: Leo Hastings from Keene High School; Megan Cotter from White Mountains Regional High School; Jasmine Blais from Laconia High School; David Sykie Jr. from Gilford High School; Kimberlee Delaney from Moultonborough Academy; Melanie Taylor from Mascoma Valley Regional High School; Chandra Boudreau from Exeter High School; Andrea Demos from Campbell High School; and Slattery Donohoe from Hopkinton High School.